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THE DREAM OF EXILE
the wall of exile is not fully intact; it has windows, cracks, splits, and holes. through these windows and cracks, Moshiach tzidkeinu gazes and watches. Moshiach stands behind the wall and eagerly awaits and looks, wondering when will he finally be able to come! Of course, he does not suffice with a passive role, just observing. Rather, Moshiach’s gaze has an actual impact in bringing about the redemption. * Part 2 of 2
Translated by Boruch Merkur
SPEAK ABOUT MOSHIACH UNTIL THEY ARE COMPELLED TO SEND HIM
The reason why we constantly speak about the imminent coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu is because that is the fact; it is no mere dream! As discussed above, “all predicted dates for the advent of Moshiach have passed and the matter is only dependent upon t’shuva, repentance,” and t’shuva can be done “in a single moment, in a single instance.” Thus, Moshiach Tzidkeinu comes immediately, in reality! But even if Moshiach has not yet come, and even if Eliyahu HaNavi has not yet come, we speak about it again and again, at every farbrengen – once, twice, even three times, which “is a chazaka, a presumed condition.” We speak about the imminence of Moshiach even a hundred times, at which point habituation becomes habit, the person’s nature (see Tanya Ch. 15) (“second nature,” or
“habituation becomes one’s nature” period) – even a hundred and one times (see Chagiga 9b, Tanya Ch. 15; see Likkutei Sichos Vol. 26 pg. 208, note 45). And if, G-d forbid, Moshiach does not come tomorrow or even by today at Mincha time, we shall speak about it yet again, until they will be pestered to such a degree (“nudged,” as people say) – both below and likewise On High, as it were – that it actually brings about the advent of Moshiach!
“MORE THAN THE CALf wANTS TO SUCKLE, THE COw wANTS TO fEED”
This is especially the case insofar as the “cow” is more concerned about it than the “calf” (ala “more than the calf wants to suckle, the cow wants to feed” –P’sachim 112a, end), as it is written: “‘G-d, your L-rd shall return your returnees’ – it doesn’t say ‘heishiv – return [others]’ but ‘shav – [He shall] return,’ teaching that the
Alm-ghty returns with them, among the exiles.’” [That is to say that G-d Himself is anxious to bring about the redemption, for until that time, He suffers, as it were, (along with the Jewish people, His chosen nation) in exile.] So too with regard to Moshiach, “Behold, he stands behind our walls, observing through the windows, peering through the cracks” – Moshiach stands behind the wall and eagerly awaits and looks, wondering when will he finally be able to come! The wall is not fully intact; it has windows, cracks, splits, and holes. Through these windows and cracks, Moshiach Tzidkeinu gazes and watches. Of course, [he does not suffice with a passive role, just observing, rather] Moshiach’s gaze has an actual impact.
CONSTANTLY SPEAKING ABOUT IT MAKES THE “DREAM” Of MOSHIACH A REALITY
At every opportunity we continue to speak about the “dream” of Moshiach (according to those who argue that exile is
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real), for Moshiach Tzidkeinu is indeed coming. If there are still questions, then “The Tishbi [i.e., Eliyahu HaNavi] will answer difficulties and enquiries,” a phrase that spells the acronym “Teiku” (Tishbi Yitaretz Kushios V’abayos). Constantly speaking about the advent of Moshiach actually brings about its manifestation in the psychical world (below ten handbreadths), “and he shall fly
with the clouds of the heaven,” which is the ultimate dream… May Moshiach come immediately, on this Shabbos and in this beis midrash, and we shall daven together with him, T’fillas Mincha of Shabbos in the
Constantly speaking about the advent of Moshiach actually brings about its manifestation in the psychical world (below ten handbreadths).
Third Beis HaMikdash, “with our youth and with our elders, etc., with our sons and with our daughters,” all the Jewish people, alive in this physical world.
(From the address of Shabbos Parshas Pinchas 5740, bilti muga)
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Issue 841 • �
6 � • 23 Tammuz 5772
FOR oUR fUtURe
After understanding the dangers posed by the Internet and the need for both a filter and chinuch, we spoke with Rabbi Zalman Leib Markowitz, an educational consultant, to hear what the best chinuch approach is for handling Internet usage. * R’ Markowitz speaks of a combination of three ingredients: supplying a child’s physical and spiritual needs, keeping him away from the Internet, and filling his inner world with Torah and hiskashrus. * True connection to the Rebbe will disconnect us from the Internet!
Interview: Avrohom Rabinowitz
Can we raise bachurim not to want forbidden things through providing a proper chinuch? Before I answer your question, I would like to point out that people confuse two things that are quite similar but actually worlds apart. There are taavos (lusts) for forbidden things, and there are emotional needs that can lead to forbidden things. Each of us is born with a yetzer ha’ra (evil inclination) and this yetzer entices us with taavos for things forbidden by the Torah.
Even the beinoni of Tanya, who never sinned, has a yetzer ha’ra which presents him with taavos. The only person without taavos is someone who reaches the level of the tzaddik of Tanya, which is not common (although in 5752, the Rebbe said that today, each of us can attain the level of tzaddik). As educators, we are not meant to attempt to raise children without taavos. Our job is to raise children to deal with taavos and to conquer the yetzer ha’ra. This applies to a taava for something forbidden, but when
WILL KEEP US OFF
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we are talking about emotional needs for forbidden things, when a person feels he “must” partake of forbidden things, then that is something else entirely. A person is not born with a psychological need for forbidden things. It is not a natural thing but something created due to a corrupt chinuch or inappropriate environment. These create a feeling of spiritual emptiness which leads to an emotional need for forbidden things. Here is where the teacher comes into the picture. Good chinuch can prevent a feeling of emptiness and the emotional need that comes in its wake. that this is not a topic only for children. The Rebbe often stressed that chinuch is not only for children but for adults too. When he announced Mivtza Chinuch, the Rebbe emphasized that this includes educating oneself and educating others. Our chinuch as adults is not essentially different than chinuch for children. In Klalei HaChinuch V’Hahadracha, the Rebbe Rayatz writes explicitly that it does not apply only to the young, but rather it applies to all, with no difference as far as age is concerned. That means that whatever we say or write about exceptions, especially something as individualistic as chinuch. You cannot say there is one way that suits everyone. There are those who by nature have a more composed temperament and are not so drawn by the nonsense of the world, and there are those whom life will affect in such a way that the usual chinuch won’t suffice, and they need a different approach. When speaking about the majority, there definitely exists preventative chinuch which, when provided to children, will solve most problems of spiritual deterioration, particularly the dangers of the Internet. I’m not talking about a series of simple steps but about a high level of awareness of chinuch; knowing one has to invest in it, as it says in the HaYom Yom, quoting the Rebbe Rashab, that just as it is an obligation to put on t’fillin every day, so too, a half hour a day must be invested in thinking about the educational needs of children. When a parent asks me what topic is the most important when it comes to chinuch, there are so many details one can emphasize such as being open, talking, learning together, being in touch with teachers, being a role model, and so on. But the most important topic of all is for a parent to know what his child’s needs are and to provide them. This appears at length in the Klalei HaChinuch V’Hahadracha, so that we can say that the entire booklet is based on understanding the needs of a child and properly assessing him. Every person has physical and emotional needs. Sometimes it seems to us that we are providing all our children’s needs, but the truth is we need to pay attention to see what each child’s needs are
That is the first and most important stage in chinuch; to understand the special needs of every child and to supply them. A parent would not think of buying the same size pants for all his children since he knows that his children are different sizes and have different needs. Likewise, it should be clear that chinuch cannot be one size fits all; the uniqueness of every child must be understood and treated accordingly.
Even in the case where the feeling already exists and there is spiritual deterioration, it can still be fixed. What is the method of teaching a boy or bachur so that he won’t have an emotional need like that? Why do you only ask about a boy or bachur? What about a young man or older man? Is he immune to the tests of the world? The yetzer ha’ra accompanies us all our lives and does not disappear when we grow older. It is true that the tests can become easier, but when speaking about chinuch, we need to know
chinuch, even if it is usually written as guidance for parents, pertains to every person, at every age, in every circumstance.
PROVIDING A CHILD’S NEEDS
More specifically, how can we educate ourselves and our children in this way? By way of introduction, I must clarify that my answer will be general and of course there are exceptions to the rule. We know that the “Torah speaks about the majority.” This means that even those things stated in Torah explicitly have
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in each of these two categories. You have a child whose primary physical needs are eating and drinking, while to another child, that is not as important as sleep. With emotional needs too, a parent has to think and pay attention to discern what a child’s emotional needs are, because in one child it can be expressed in the need for more of a social circle, while for another child it is expressed in his being very sensitive. There is a child who becomes enthused by a story; another by a niggun; another by a clever thought. Just as their appearances differ, so too, their physical and emotional needs are not the same. That is the first and most important stage in chinuch; to understand the special needs of every child and to supply them. A parent would not think of buying the same size pants for all his children since he knows that his children are different sizes and have different needs. Likewise, it should be clear that chinuch cannot be one size fits all; the uniqueness of every child must be understood and treated accordingly. A parent who knows what the needs of every child in his home are, and who provides each one with his needs, will have half the problems solved immediately without any other investment. How is this done? There is a saying that simcha is not a mitzva but simcha enables us to reach a spiritual level that no other mitzva can bring us to. Simcha means healthy living. It is not enough that the home in general is a happy place; you need to look at every child individually and see to it that he is happy and content. Every child has a sensitive soul and we need to pay attention to see whether
amiss, that’s the time to listen, to understand, and to be supportive. It is not always possible to solve the problems in our children’s lives, but it is always possible to give them the feeling that we are with them, that we understand them, and that we support them.
DISTANCE A CHILD fROM TESTS
Can we say that this step will provide a shield from the enticements of the world? No. It’s only the first step and it needs to be followed by other steps. The second step is no less important and it consists of not putting our child into difficult situations. That includes, of course, not bringing temptations like the Internet into the house, and even if someone uses the Internet for work or to “spread the wellsprings,” it must be filtered so that the children won’t be exposed inadvertently to inappropriate things. Speaking of not bringing tests and enticements into the house, it’s not only about the Internet but goes way beyond that. A father who comes home with the latest phone, who plays with it and other gadgets, is conveying a dangerous message to his child. We see that babies are very drawn to cell phones and other technological devices. This is because they see their parents busy with them and they understand from this that these items are very desirable to them. A child can easily discern whether a parent uses a device only for his needs or whether it has become much more than that. When a parent conveys this message to his children, the chinuch he provides for them won’t help because his actions
FOR oUR fUtURe
he is going through a hard time; maybe he was offended by friends or maybe he does not get along with his teacher. Our responsibility as parents is not just to do homework with our children, but to be open to what is going on in their lives. That is much more important. When children learn in yeshivos far from home, parents cannot allow two days to go by without talking to them. When you know the special needs of every child, two minutes is usually enough in order to know how the child is doing. If you hear that something is
Issue 841 • �
gave all his money to the Rebbe. Afterward, Chassidim asked him why he did this. Was this a form of Thanksgiving Korban for the Rebbe being released from jail, or a Voluntary Korban that he had promised while the Rebbe had been imprisoned? The Chassid said it was neither; he had a Rebbe and he needed nothing else. An ordinary person feels that money is what makes him a mentch or that his work makes him a mentch. But a person who has a Rebbe feels that this is what makes him a mentch, and consequently he has no need for anything else. Pursuing taavos in the attempt to fill one’s needs comes from a person not feeling satisfied since he had no inner meaning in his life. This is why he attempts to get satisfaction from all kinds of external things. Some get it from having a nice car, some from money, etc. The pursuit of these things comes from a lack of inner meaning. However, a Chassid who has a Rebbe and Chassidus has inner meaning and he does not need to pursue material things. Surely, the Chassid who gave all his money away meant it sincerely and his intention was that when one truly lives with the Rebbe, then there is no place for other things in the world. In order to reach this state, we need to invest in Chassidishe chinuch, the chinuch in which a person lives with belief in the Rebbe, he has grown up with Chassidishe stories, and he fulfills the Rebbe’s instructions. When life is filled with light and meaning, then even when faced with tests from within and without, children will have the tools to handle them and won’t be fazed by the world. In a lighter vein, we can
FROM A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
Nine years ago, our daughter was born prematurely and it was a miracle that she grew and developed. Today, she is a smart, charming child who gives us real Chassidishe nachas, but she is blind. Our Hindy attends a special school for visually impaired children. However, it is not a Jewish school (of course, we consulted with rabbanim). When she comes home every day, she learns Torah and lives a full Chassidishe life. She has no tests from the outside world and she is so immersed in Jewish life that her behavior influences her peers and the staff of the school. She is growing up happy and emotionally healthy. Consequently, there is no fear that she will be influenced at all. The reason is that if a child has his needs provided and is also given a rich, Chassidishe chinuch, he won’t be influenced and he will have the tools to contend with the world. This is true not only for a child who attends a non-Jewish school, but also for a child of shluchim who attends a Jewish but not a Chabad school. It also pertains to a Lubavitcher child who goes to a school with children on a different Chassidishe level. are the opposite of their chinuch. Children get these enticements on the street. Won’t an insular environment in the home make him more susceptible? Absolutely. Thus, the chinuch process entails two parallel lines: 1) creating a protective fortress in the home so the child does not encounter temptations, and 2) educating the child so that when he goes out to the street, he will be immunized to what he encounters there. When the yetzer ha’ra shows a child the things on the street, the child can handle it with good chinuch, but if we bring the test into the house and there is Internet in the home and the parent himself is preoccupied with technological advances, this is no longer the yetzer ha’ra. Rather, it is placing children in constant danger with constant tests that they won’t be able to withstand. access to the Internet, and parents know his needs and supply them, and there is a Chassidishe atmosphere in the home, can they relax? As long as we are talking about little children, that is enough. Their yetzer ha’ra is not so big and when you take care of their needs and don’t expose them to tests within the house, they grow up healthy. A parent needs to know that if his child does not receive his emotional needs, it won’t help that there is no Internet in the house. The child will look for and find places that provide him with satisfaction. But when children are older, then their yetzer ha’ra is bigger. At this age, beyond providing for his basic needs, he needs deep tochen (content), which will fill his being and immunize him from evil things. This is done through learning Chassidus and hiskashrus to the Rebbe. The story is told about a Chassid of the Alter Rebbe, R’ Shmuel Eliezer, who was very wealthy. When he heard about the Geula of Yud-Tes Kislev, he
fILLING THE CHILD’S INNER wORLD wITH CHASSIDIC CONTENT
When a child does not have
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say that these three stages are the idea of Chassid (a healthy, happy person), Yerei Shamayim (a person who is not constantly facing enticements), and lamdan (one who is constantly involved in learning Torah – Nigleh and Chassidus).
CONNECTING OUR CHILDREN TO THE REBBE
How do we generate in ourselves and in our children a deep inner feeling that the Rebbe is everything so that the Rebbe’s inyanim fill our entire beings? In order for a child to grow as a Chassid, he needs to be brought into the Chassidic world when he is young and have these ideas implanted in him from his childhood. The atmosphere in the home needs to be full of chayus and Chassidishe emuna, so that the Rebbe becomes a part of the chayus of the home. This means that the music in the home is Chassidish; the bedtime story is Chassidish; that you write a letter to the Rebbe with the children asking for a bracha; and that you share memories of having seen the Rebbe and the feelings we have today towards the Rebbe. In general, the atmosphere and direction need to be positive with the emphasis not so much on the terrible situation, but more on what we have. The atmosphere is not negative but a positive one of Lubavitch pride in having what the rest of the world does not have – the Rebbe. We cannot teach children only that which is prohibited; they mainly need to hear what is permissible and about how fortunate we are for having a Rebbe and having Chassidus. In the Rebbe’s teachings we find an amazing thing – the fact that every kind of person can
find that aspect which appeals to him. A scholar will find genius; a boy will find sichos addressing soldiers in Tzivos Hashem; a sensitive soul will find topics that appeal to his heart; a housewife will find inspiration for her work. Even a person who is not so enthusiastic about learning can watch inspiring videos. We see that when people become close to the Rebbe, it makes no difference what background they come from, they become excited. Our job is to do this for our children and get them excited about the Rebbe just as we do for any other Jew that we meet.
faith of Chassidim, each in his own way, is their faith in the Rebbe. What you’re saying is clearly true and has stood the test of time, but doesn’t the Internet generation need something stronger? The world hasn’t changed; what changed is the swiftness of our reaction. In the previous generation, if a child was offended and felt bad, it took a long time until he had the opportunity to run away to another world, and usually his parents were able to see that something was wrong and had
When he heard about the Geula of Yud-Tes Kislev, he gave all his money to the Rebbe … he had a Rebbe and he needed nothing else.
FOR oUR fUtURe
At the same time, we must be exceedingly careful not to disparage the faith and approach of other Chassidim, even if we personally disagree with them. All the more so, must we be careful not to belittle rabbanim, roshei yeshivos and mashpiim, even if we think they are mistaken. The message that our children may get is a dangerous one and works against the entire chinuch we are trying to implant in them, because the Rebbe demands respect for rabbanim, and the
time to take corrective action. Today, the world is running at a crazy pace and there is hardly any time to fix mistakes. A child who feels he does not belong can quickly find himself in bad places, and before the parents realize it, it can be too late. So nowadays, we need to be much more on top of these three things; knowing a child’s needs, avoiding bringing snares into the house, and providing a deep, Chassidishe chinuch. Once upon a time, a bachur was able to deteriorate spiritually in small increments, on an escalator, while today he can take the express elevator. Even a child or bachur who is emotionally healthy and Chassidish, if faced with a test – he is in danger. It used to be that the test wasn’t right in front of him and he had more time to prepare and defend himself, but today it’s all instant, available and easy.
Issue 841 • �
Parents need to know that despite all the chinuch, there is no chinuch in the world that can face danger if it is brought into the home through the front door. This is why it is imperative that whoever uses the Internet, and has permission to do so from a rav, makes 100% sure that his filter will prevent any unwanted tests. Even Yochanan the High Priest, after 80 years, did not withstand the test; how can we make boys face tests that they cannot withstand (especially when today there is no need to look for tests; they come to those who don’t seek them)?
SPEAKING OPENLY wITH CHILDREN
How should a parent react when he finds out that his child was exposed to undesirable material? In precisely the same way that he would react if he found out that his son broke his leg. On the one hand, there is great pain; on the other hand, there is getting involved and being supportive. Parents need to convey their support and empathy to their child and not their disappointment. A parent who is open enough with his
The feeling of v’niflinu (we are differentiated) is extremely positive. It helps a child be connected and feel that he belongs to something bigger than himself and that it is worth fighting for even through tough times. A CLOSE CONNECTION wITH CHILDREN
What should we do when a child leaves home and goes to learn in yeshiva? Practically speaking, you need to ensure that he does not have a cell phone with an Internet connection, and of course you need to encourage him to immerse himself in learning Chassidus and hiskashrus to the Rebbe. It is a time to be more in tune with his needs. What keeps a yeshiva bachur going? Usually it is the desire to succeed and to live a normal life. What happens to a bachur who sees that he is not successful in yeshiva, neither in his learning nor with friends? That’s where trouble begins and this is where parents come into the picture. They need to be at his side and support him and not, G-d forbid, make it harder for him. child can talk about it; he can explain that this is dangerous, not just spiritually but emotionally. Even a parent who is not open enough and who does not think he can speak freely about this to his child must convey his support and caring and ask the child whom he wants to speak to. Maybe he feels more comfortable talking to a teacher or mashpia or anyone else. The main thing is not to leave him without addressing with it. Should we tell our children about the dangers of the Internet? Definitely. This includes those parents whose children have no access to the Internet. If we don’t teach them about the dangers in the world, they won’t know to be careful; and the dangers are not only physical, but spiritual and emotional. One thing is certain – sooner or later, every child will end up on the Internet. Even
if we do all we can to make this impossible, the world is a big place and we can’t hermetically seal away our children. This is why we must warn them. We need to focus mainly on the danger and not so much on that which is forbidden. We should talk about the emotional and spiritual destruction that the Internet can wreak on someone who is not careful, but we don’t need to focus on the details of all the kinds of dangers. Every child can understand that there are things that he is better off not having, like a child knows that the street is dangerous or that he is not old enough to drive a car. We are not talking only about Judaism but about his physical and spiritual welfare. This makes it easier for the child to accept what we say.
PROVIDING CHILDREN wITH PRIDE IN EXCELLENCE
Don’t you think a child will feel bad to be the only one without Internet or a computer game? That’s a question that I expect to hear from shluchim, but I don’t hear it. There is a reason for that. You would think that the children of shluchim would complain to their parents about the numerous things that all their local friends have and they don’t, since they eat food with only certain hechsherim etc. In reality, the children of shluchim don’t feel bad about it; on the contrary, they are proud to be more Chassidish and prohibited things are part of it. In general, we are not speaking only about children of shluchim, just as we are not speaking only of the Internet. Every child who is being raised to be more Chassidish than the
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average child in his class can feel bad about it, but not if it is done in the right way. Here too, the approach to take is through the three stages we spoke about earlier. First, making sure the child’s physical and emotional needs are addressed; this will make him healthy so that he feels good and won’t seek to follow other children but will want to be a leader. Second, it is vital that a child not be confused, because on the one hand he is the only one without access to the Internet, and yet, he sees his father immersed all day with his gadget. Naturally, it will be hard for him to feel good about something forbidden to him but permitted to everyone else. Third, and perhaps the most important point, is chinuch for hiskashrus to the Rebbe. When a child grows up with pride in being a Chassid of the Rebbe, he can go through things and overcome challenges that other children cannot. A Chassidishe boy feels good when he says out loud, “In my house there is no Internet,” or “We don’t use that hechsher.” Parents need to instill pride in their children for being Chassidim, and there is no need to fear excessive pride. The feeling of v’niflinu (we are differentiated) is extremely positive. It helps a child be connected and feel that he belongs to something bigger than himself and that it is worth fighting for even through tough times. This positive pride will save us from surfing to forbidden places. The story is told about R’ Binyamin Kletzker, a great Chassid of the Alter Rebbe, who was a prosperous merchant. He constantly traveled through towns, among goyim. He was once asked how he withstood the
FOR oUR fUtURe
many tests he was faced with. He said, “When I contemplate that I am a Chassid of the Alter Rebbe, I realize that it is not appropriate for me not to withstand a test.” His pride in belonging to an elite class is what saved him. In general, when a child feels and knows that his parents care about him, it is much easier to accept things from them when they explain that something is dangerous for him and they are not giving it to him for his own good. When a child thinks that his parents don’t care about him, he is likely to rebel against restrictive rules, while a child who is healthy and open with
his parents will believe that they care about his welfare. It will be much easier for him to overcome desires that his parents do not grant him. In conclusion: Chazal say, “I created the yetzer ha’ra; I created Torah as an antidote.” I think that this means that when speaking of the natural yetzer ha’ra that Hashem created, then Hashem also created the antidote, namely the Torah. However, the yetzer ha’ra that we ourselves create and bring upon ourselves such as inciting the yetzer ha’ra with the Internet, the antidote does not help in this case. It is like the explanation given for what we say in the confessional prayer, “for the sin that we sinned before You with the yetzer ha’ra” – that sometimes, even the yetzer ha’ra did not think of inciting us in that way and we brought it upon ourselves.
How can a person deal with the yetzer ha’ra that he brings upon himself? That is for another article.
Issue 841 • �
A ReLAtIVe AND tRUe CHASSID of tHe ReBBe
It was a long journey from Mizrachi to Chabad. The fire of Chassidus burned in his heart for many years, but he was prevented from realizing his ambition of learning in Tomchei T’mimim. Over the years, he corresponded with the Rebbe; after his wedding, the Rebbe designated a shlichus for him in Mevo Choron, a communal yishuv belonging to Pagi (Poalei Agudas Yisroel). * This is the story of R’ Elisha Avni a”h, a shliach who energetically promoted the teachings of Toras HaChassidus for over thirty years and who passed away a few days before Pesach.
By Nosson Avrohom
Rabbi Elisha Avni was born in one of the locations that is most identified with the Mizrachi movement, Kfar HaRoeh. He was raised with the philosophy of Religious Zionism and his mentor was the Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook. Nevertheless, from a young age he felt the Lubavitch spirit in his soul. He felt a constant tug
towards Chassidus. When he was twelve, his father R’ Yeshaya put him in a summer camp in Kfar Chabad. One of the powerful Chabad memories he had was from the time his family was on shlichus for the Jewish Agency in England. At that time, his father flew to New York and had a yechidus with the Rebbe that lasted over two hours. The purpose of this trip from Europe to the US was
in order to meet with the Rebbe. His father did not tell him all the details of his encounter with the Rebbe, but over the years, he heard from his father many expressions of admiration towards the Rebbe regarding his leadership and righteousness. R’ Elisha became very involved in Chassidic teachings when he went to learn in the yeshiva in Kfar HaRoeh led by Rabbi Tzvi Neria. The
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The one who first suggested that he write to the Rebbe was Rabbi Sholom Dovber Wolpo, who gave shiurim in Chassidus at the yeshiva. Elisha wrote a letter in which he mentioned that on his father’s side he was a descendent of the Alter Rebbe. He asked whether this meant he was related to the Rebbe. The Rebbe returned his letter and underlined the word “related.” Elisha, who was only sixteen at the time, was ecstatic.
“fOR NOw” MEANS fOREVER
R’ Elisha’s life wasn’t easy. His father died suddenly and was not alive for his bar mitzva, and his mother was very sick. His teachers took advantage of this sensitive situation to dissuade him from switching to a Chabad yeshiva. They spoke to his mother who accepted their view and asked him to continue learning in Kfar HaRoeh in order to attain his matriculation. He wrote a letter to the Rebbe and described his situation and doubts. On the one hand, he did not want to hurt his mother; on the other hand, he yearned to study Chassidus. Two weeks later he received the Rebbe’s response. It was a long letter, at the end of which the Rebbe wrote, “Learn in a place which has abundant Yiras Shamayim and the study of Chassidus.” To Elisha, the answer was clear. Which yeshiva fulfilled those criteria? Only a Chabad yeshiva! The pressure on him increased, and Elisha remained in his yeshiva until the end of the school year. Then he wrote to the Rebbe again. The Rebbe told him to consult with a rav moreh horaa in the yeshiva in which he
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rosh yeshiva allowed Chabad Chassidim to visit the yeshiva and arrange shiurim in Chassidus for the talmidim. R’ Neria was also the one who brought YudTes Kislev farbrengens into the religious high schools. When his teacher realized that Elisha was enamored with Chassidus, he warned him that it shouldn’t be at the expense of his study of Gemara, and he would have to make up the material in his free time.
“I had a tremendous desire to learn Chassidus. I was willing to lose most of my break time in order to be able to listen to Chabad lecturers who taught us the fundamentals of Chassidus. I felt that this was Truth.” Elisha realized that Chassidus is not vertlach (pithy Torah thoughts) and not about shallow displays of emotion. He found depth in these teachings that put the entire Torah in a clear light of true avodas Hashem.
He spent the night sleeping on a bench in yeshiva. From that point on, he became very attached to R’ Naparstek, who became his personal mashpia. Elisha regularly attended the shiur in Chassidus that was given at the President Shazar’s home. Rabbi Adin Even Yisroel (Steinzaltz) gave the shiur which was in Derech Mitzvosecha. “I felt like I was flying,” said Elisha with a smile. When he finished learning at Merkaz HaRav, he looked for a place to learn in peace without money worries. He went to a yishuv called Mevo Choron, a collaborative moshav. He knew that he could learn there without distractions while working part time. Mevo Choron is on a hill in the north of Emek Ayalon near the original biblical Ayalon. The yishuv was founded in 5730 as a kibbutz of the settlement movement of Poalei Agudas Israel. After the Yom Kippur War, the settlers moved up to the present location and settled in permanent homes. There are about 200 families living there now, most of whom are Religious Zionists. Elisha lived there until he married. His wife also wanted this way of life. Although he still looked and dressed like a Religious Zionist, inside he was a Chabad Chassid in every respect. The books in his home consisted of numerous works of Chassidus, maamarim and sichos. In 5738, Elisha and his wife decided to move to Tzfas so that he could learn in the Chabad yeshiva there. One of the bylaws of the moshav stated that any member could leave in order to learn in yeshiva for a period of time of up till half a year, and this would be financed by the yishuv.
When his teacher realized that Elisha was enamored with Chassidus, he warned him that it shouldn’t be at the expense of his study of Gemara, and he would have to make up the material in his free time.
learned. The rav that he spoke to suggested that he continue learning in Yeshivas Merkaz HaRav. There too, the fire of Chassidus continued to burn in him. He learned in Merkaz HaRav for two and a half years, while regularly attending shiurim in Chassidus given by Lubavitchers in Yerushalayim. Despite all his teachers’ efforts to dissuade him from this path, he eventually joined Chabad. One year on Yud Shevat, Elisha left yeshiva and hitched a ride in the direction of Kfar Chabad. After a few hours, he arrived in B’nei Brak and someone took him from there to Kfar Chabad, directly to the farbrengen of the mashpia Rabbi Moshe Naparstek. The mashpia won the heart of the young boy.
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“I spent half a year in yeshiva and it turned me into a Chassid on the outside too.” He loved the k’hilla in Tzfas and learned Chassidus while absorbing Chassidishe conduct from the mashpiim and rabbanim of the neighborhood. His day began at 6:30 with a shiur in maamarim of the Rebbe Maharash, and after davening he learned in the yeshiva. What won him and his wife over were mainly the love and friendship among people in the then fledgling k’hilla. When six months were up, R’ Elisha wrote to the Rebbe and asked what to do next. Should he stay in Mevo Choron or move to the k’hilla in Tzfas? He also asked about parnasa. The Rebbe’s answer surprised him and his wife. “Continue for the time being where you live now.” They understood the phrase “For the time being” to mean until Moshiach comes or until the Rebbe told them to go elsewhere. “On the one hand, we were sad because we loved the community in Tzfas. On the other hand, we were very happy because the Rebbe had designated our shlichus for us in Mevo Choron. He had given us the task of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus on the yishuv. I did not hesitate for a second. As quickly as we could, we packed our belongings, said goodbye to our friends and acquaintances, and returned to the yishuv.”
“There were times that I thought it would be easier for me to be on shlichus on a Shomer HaTzair (virulently anti-religious) kibbutz.”
bring mashpiim to farbreng on the yishuv. R’ Tuvia Blau helped him a lot in those early days. He came often to farbreng and give shiurim. Later on, R’ Meir Mark came. He was on shlichus on a yishuv not far away. R’ Elisha described his work on the yishuv in recent years as “a yeshiva on pleasant green hills.” It wasn’t like that nearly forty years ago when he started out. The strong nucleus of residents did not look kindly at his activities and they tried to obstruct his work. The fact that he had once been one of them made it easier for him to handle, but still, Chabad lecturers were examined with a fine-tooth comb by the rabbanim of the yishuv. The beginning was not easy, because certain people on the yishuv were afraid of having the
For Yud-Alef Nissan 5738/1978, R’ Elisha went to 770 for the first time. The experience increased the feeling of hiskashrus he had towards
the Rebbe and Chassidus. The Chassidim, seeing the Rebbe and saying the SheHechiyanu blessing, all made him feel like he was floating. “It was like a dream,” he said. Towards the end of the visit, he had yechidus. He asked the Rebbe for a bracha in his shlichus and the Rebbe spoke to him for several minutes. His knees shook and his teeth chattered. The Rebbe blessed him to increase greatly in the light of Torah, both in Nigleh and in Chassidus. He later said that when he left the Rebbe’s room, he felt like he was hovering. He felt bad that he had forgotten to ask for a bracha “to have strength to farbreng.” R’ Elisha returned to Eretz Yisroel in an elevated state. The first thing he did on the yishuv was to start a Tanya class and
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address the children, he told them where the cake came from and then gave each child some crumbs. This paved the way to working with the children of the yishuv when, previously, he mainly focused on the adults. One of the outstanding features of Chabad activity in Mevo Choron is the consistency, both in the work with adults and the work with children. R’ Avni took pride in this. Until he became sick, his work on the yishuv was primarily in giving shiurim to men and women in Tanya and Chassidus and farbrengens on special days with a Lubavitcher lecturer. Tzivos Hashem for children has been operating for years, ever since the Rebbe urged working with children. His wife Ruti Avni was always his full partner. She helps numerous women from the yishuv write to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh. She herself experienced miracles through the Igros Kodesh.
A TASTE OF GAN EDEN
From R’ Yosef Hartman, well-known Chabad activist and a friend of the family: I knew R’ Elisha as a child about fifty years ago when he was a camper in Gan Israel and I directed the camp in Kfar Chabad. He was a special person, one who loved and respected everyone. All his life he sought to strive higher in k’dusha and tahara, in learning of Nigleh and Chassidus. He was a devoted teacher in the yeshiva high school in Beit Shemesh. Despite his illness, he kept going with optimism and hope. He wholeheartedly believed in Hashem and accepted his suffering with love. He suffered a lot, but always continued with all the activities to spread Judaism and Chassidus with great energy and devotion. Although he dressed differently than the local population (a few years ago he began wearing a hat, sirtuk and gartel), he was beloved and respected by the members of the moshav and the staff at the yeshiva. Two years ago, he spent Shabbos with his daughter Batya and son-in-law R’ Yosef Yisroel Solomon who lived for a while in Nachalat Har Chabad. They had a son born on Erev Shabbos, 11 Nissan 5770. That Shabbos, early in the morning, I met him sitting in shul and learning Chassidus. Then he attended the shiur in Chassidus given by R’ Mendel Wechter. In the afternoon he came to shiurim in Halacha, Chassidus, and Pirkei Avos. On Motzaei Shabbos he said excitedly to me, “On Shabbos I had a taste of Gan Eden.” He told me happily and proudly that he was approved by the hanhala of Tzach to be an official shliach in Mevo Choron. His daughter just gave birth to another son. Elisha was unconscious and could not attend the bris, but after the bris he woke up suddenly and was able to see the entire family and part with them through a squeeze of the hand. He was buried in the cemetery of the moshav which he loved so much. May he be a meilitz yosher for his wife, daughters, sons-in-law, and his only son (born with a bracha from the Rebbe) and all of Anash. May we speedily see the fulfillment of the verse, “Arise and sing those who dwell in the dust,” and he among them with the coming of Moshiach. spirit of Chabad permeate the premises. They finally came to an agreement in which every Chabad lecturer would have to be approved of by the mara d’asra. “There were times that I thought it would be easier for me to be on shlichus on a Shomer HaTzair (virulently anti-religious) kibbutz,” said R’ Elisha. Oftentimes, he had to work secretively. The residents of the yishuv under his influence are distinguished people in the “knitted kippa camp” with a broad Torah knowledge. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties, many became involved with Toras HaChassidus over the years, thanks to him. He felt the Rebbe’s brachos throughout. What caused him to change direction was his second visit to the Rebbe on Sukkos 5742/1981. It was a Tishrei full of giluyim. When he returned to the yishuv after Tishrei, he went to the preschools and distributed pieces of lekach to the teachers. When they allowed him to
CONVEYING THE MESSAGES PROPERLY
Despite the great sensitivity needed in conveying the messages of Geula in a Religious Zionist yishuv, R’ Avni did not hesitate to convey the Besuras Ha’Geula. At the Lag B’Omer parade, which is a highlight of the year for the children of the yishuv, they send Moshiach balloons up into the air and ask Hashem to send the Geula. “The approach is simple,” said R’ Avni. “The adults are tough nuts to crack, so we work with the children and they influence their parents. This is why a significant part of our work is with children. You can’t fool a kid. On Lag B’Omer, for
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example, we have a big parade and many adults take part too. “In general, when it comes to Moshiach, a lot depends on how you say it. I remember that at one of the parades, R’ Zushe Partisan came to help out. I’ll never forget his fire, the truth he radiated. Nobody could resist him. When people see that we truly believe in this, they more readily accept it.”
NEXT GENERATION ON SHLICHUS
On 10 Nissan, after much suffering, R’ Elisha Avni passed away at the young age of 58. His funeral took place at the yishuv with over a thousand people in attendance. His daughters all married T’mimim and went on shlichus.
His oldest son-in-law, R’ Meir Cohen, said these parting words: “You are a Chassid; all your life you acted as a Chassid; you passed away as a Chassid on Erev 11 Nissan, the birthday of the Rebbe to whom you were so mekushar and devoted to carrying out all his horaos.”
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tHe ReBBe WANtS eVeRY CHASSID to LeARN AYIN-BeIS
This Shavuos marked 100 years since the beginning of the recitation of the maamarim known as “Hemshech Ayin-Beis.” We spoke to the rosh yeshiva of Daas in Rechovos, Rabbi Yitzchok Arad, who gives classes in these maamarim, about their significance in the life of a Chassid nowadays, 100 years since they were said.
By Menachem Ziegelboim
he Rebbe Rashab is known for the many Maamarei Chassidus that he wrote and said, and in particular for the clarity and organization of fundamental topics in Toras Ha’Chassidus. The highlight of his drushim (discourses) is, without a doubt, the hemshech (series) of maamarim B’Shaa Sh’Hikdimu – 5672. Hemshech Ayin-Beis (‘72) is the longest composition in Chassidus from the Chabad Rebbeim. It consists of a series of
144 Drushei Chassidus that were said from Shavuos 5672 until Shabbos Parshas VaYeira 5676. These maamarim were written by the Rebbe Rashab himself and then said in public (aside from a large portion of them which were not said but were only written). In this hemshech, fundamental topics in Chabad Chassidus are explained in a unique way not seen elsewhere. Until our generation, only a small portion of the hemshech
was available in the form of photocopies of handwritten text. It was first in 5737/1977 that the entire hemshech was published. Since the hemshech was published, it is a fundamental text for those who learn Chassidus, especially those who are advanced students, because the principles of Chassidus Chabad are explained in an unusually clear and organized way. In this hemshech, the principles in Chassidus of
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haskala (Chassidic vernacular for the labor of the mind to conceptualize/comprehend the abstract spiritual/divine realities explicated in Chassidus) and avoda (Chassidic vernacular for the labor of the heart to relate/ connect to those realities and to transform one’s character and behavior accordingly) are explained in clear language and as a “set table,” until every topic is thoroughly elucidated. This past Shavuos marked
100 years since the start of the hemshech, and so we spoke to Rabbi Yitzchok Arad, rosh yeshiva of Daas in Rechovos, who has been giving shiurim in these maamarim for over sixteen years. Not only talmidim in the yeshiva participate in the shiur, but also local balabatim attend. We asked R’ Arad about these maamarim and their relevance to all. The series of maamarim
Hemshech Ayin-Beis has a strong haskala orientation, as opposed to maamarim of avoda. Do maamarim of haskala also have the ability to affect a man’s soul, to change his conduct etc., or is their spiritual impact primarily indirect? Even in the maamarim of Ayin-Beis there are parts and inyanim that are in the style of avoda. There are topics in avoda that are explained at length, in great detail, like the general
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style of the hemshech which explains everything at length. Take for example, the end of volume one where there is a lengthy explanation on the topic of Tohu and Tikkun and there are analogies that are very helpful in explaining what bittul is and how bittul allows the essence to be revealed. Although this is connected to haskala, a Chassid can learn a lot from it about avoda. However, the hemshech deals mainly with deep matters of haskala. When a Jew learns them, especially a Chassid, the very study of Chassidus changes his outlook on the reality around him. This is the purpose of Chassidus, that we be able to understand the greatness of the Creator, each of us in our own way. There is no doubt that knowledge of the greatness of the Creator has the ability to change one’s middos and to provide one with a different way of approaching G-d. Hemshech Ayin-Beis is unique in that it is entirely haskala. The Rebbe Rayatz says that someone who learns it can feel Gan Eden, because in these maamarim, the Rebbe Rashab took the deepest concepts of Chassidus and brought them down into human intellect in a way that everyone can understand. This seems to is important in its own right. In the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha 5752, the Rebbe explains that learning p’nimius ha’Torah is a preparation for the Era of the Future; learning lofty matters of the intellect is a taste of the learning of the Future Era. And that is why it is important in itself. One of the chiddushim of Chassidus is to provide us today with G-dly knowledge as a preparation for Geula, at which time the occupation of the entire world will only be to know G-d. In the Future, people will literally see what we can only learn of now in deep maamarei Chassidus. Our Rebbeim said about this hemshech that it contains “great things and wonders even compared to other hemshechim, and in it are explained all the deepest inyanim of Chassidus as ordinary, tangible things.” Surely, by learning this hemshech one fulfills this “high and lofty mitzva” in an optimal way. At the same time, as lofty as this learning is, it has to affect the middos even if this sometimes happens in a roundabout way. In the HaYom Yom for 6 Teves there is an explanation on the verse “Know the G-d of your father and serve Him with a whole heart”: that all knowledge, even of the deepest things, needs to be translated into avoda, i.e. a refinement of the middos and an inner hiskashrus (bond with “the G-d of your father”), which in Chassidus is called avoda. What is the definition of avoda? It is that even abstract things need to be translated into refining the middos. If a person has a talent for hafshata (lit. undressing, i.e. abstraction) or
Developing a consciousness of self-valuation which is not dependent on others will open up the possibility for true love for them and the ability to get close without being frightened or threatened by the other’s existence.
When a person looks at the world around him, he constantly sees the physical as reality, as though there is something aside from G-d. But when a Jew delves into the details of the Seder Hishtalshlus (order of the chain of spiritual “worlds”) and internalizes the fact that all of perceived reality is external, then afterward when he goes into the world, the world appears less imposing to him and consequently less obstructing and disorienting. That is one of the points that characterize the maamarim of Ayin-Beis. The deepest inyanim are explained intelligibly. When a person understands s’firos and lofty levels in a tangible way, it has a direct effect on his soul. provide spiritual delight, but is there any connection to the avodas ha’middos? In general, in learning Chassidus there are several aspects. The Alter Rebbe teaches in Tanya, in Kuntres Acharon, that studying p’nimius ha’Torah is a “high and lofty mitzva etc. and leads to a whole heart.” This means that, as the Rebbe notes in one of the maamarim, in studying p’nimius ha’Torah there are two aspects. Aside from it leading to a “whole heart,” that a person changes his middos and refines them because of his learning, the learning and knowledge of p’nimius ha’Torah (in and of itself) is a “high and lofty mitzva.” In other words, knowing the Seder Hishtalshlus and all the deep details in p’nimius ha’Torah
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halbasha (lit. dressing up, i.e. concretization), he can learn a lot from Ayin-Beis about how to behave in the house, how to raise children, and so on. All of these are things that can be extrapolated from the same understanding of Chassidic teachings, as deep and lofty as they may be. Every Jew needs to find the place and time to invest – which is the chiddush of Chabad – in learning Chassidus. One can even see balabatim devoting time to learning and it has an effect on them. The hemshech was published for the public, not just for special individuals. The Rebbe made a big deal out of the printing, because he was apprehensive about printing these maamarim. The Rebbe considered it a tremendous revelation and he asked everyone to participate in the printing. Why? So that it would be accessible just for special people? Rather, so that these maamarim would be available for every person to learn. In Yeshivas Daas, you are mekarev people to Torah and Chassidus. Can newcomers learn these maamarim or must they learn other things first? It is definitely preferable to learn and understand basic concepts of Chassidus first by learning Tanya, Derech Mitzvosecha, etc. If someone starts with this, and is willing to put in the effort, and has a strong desire for it, he can sit and learn it, although it is harder. I have personally seen young men whose first Chassidic work is Hemshech 5666 and it definitely helped them advance. I knew someone who was at the beginning of his journey towards Chabad who came across the maamarim of Ayin-
TWO VOLUMES AND THE THIRD IS ON THE WAY
In the past year, two new books were published by Yeshivas Daas. The two volumes, plus a third which is soon to be published, are called Shiurim B’Hemshech HaMaamarim 5672. These s’farim make the study of the hemshech accessible to all: • All the acronyms are spelled out in full and the words in Yiddish are translated. • Within the text of the maamer is an easily understood explanation, helping the reader follow the flow and explaining difficult concepts. • While learning, the reader can keep track of the topics and see how the hemshech is divided into topics and subtopics. • In the margins are numerous sources and even quotes from other maamarim and s’farim that the Rebbe refers to in the maamer. • At the beginning of every chapter there is a heading that summarizes the topic addressed in that chapter. Likewise, within each chapter there are divisions into sub-chapters. At the end of each maamer there is a summary of the maamer, which helps preserve the flow between maamarim and divide them into topics. • Occasionally there are charts which help organize the material explained in the maamer in a cohesive fashion. The s’farim are divided in such a way that each volume contains an entire topic that can stand alone, relatively speaking. Thus far, thirty-one maamarim have been elucidated, which is a significant portion of Volume 1 of Hemshech Ayin-Beis. The books are an excellent resource for learning the hemshech and helping the reader understand the topics explained. The first two volumes that were published so far were well received by those who study Chassidus.
Beis. He had no prior knowledge and was not proficient in Chabad concepts. He didn’t know that this is a deep work and that there are easier s’farim that are generally recommended for beginners. Yet he made the effort to learn and it certainly filled his neshama. There is a special emphasis on learning this hemshech this year which marks 100 years since
it was begun. At the same time, it shouldn’t be at the expense of basic learning. Everyone should consult with his mashpia about what is best for him to learn. What makes Hemshech Ayin-Beis different than other maamarim of the Rebbe Rashab? The Rebbe said that in these maamarim concepts are explained at length and it
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contains wondrous things that are not even in Hemshech 5666. We don’t really have the ability to assess the deeper transcendental aspect the Rebbe talks about, to appreciate the true depths of the concepts. We are merely simple people who learn and can see how things are explained at length and how one is more readily able to grasp the topics in these maamarim. As opposed to other maamarim, in these maamarim there is a lengthy continuity, and in order to understand the concepts well, a person needs to learn slowly and patiently, one maamer after another. It takes time. Learning in this way draws the person into the topics being explained. The practical way. He can also learn lessons from the analogies and explanations in the hemshech, since Chassidus explains the most abstract things for the express purpose of drawing down G-dliness into the lower realms and using that to carry out the birur (spiritual refinement) of that which is lowly. The function of this birur, insofar as the human being is concerned, is to change the person and bring about an increase in the basic Ahavas Yisroel within each of us, strengthening our bitachon, and revealing the emuna that is inherent in the portion of G-d within us, thereby also increasing simcha. of a point mentioned in these maamarim, and how one goes about ensuring that it causes an improvement in him spiritually? One of the basic concepts in Chassidus is the need for bittul (self-negation). On a basic level, this means allowing room for someone else; bittul is the opposite of yeshus (lit. substantiveness, i.e. arrogance, ego) which estranges a person from his fellow man. Bittul leads to Ahavas Yisroel, while yeshus leads to quarrels. Yeshus is present in all aspects of a person’s life; it interferes in community life, in family life, and in his relationship with the world. True bittul allows for achdus. How do we understand this? Does it mean that in order for a person to attain the ability to connect with another he needs to negate his existence, his value, his essential importance which seems to be the concept of yeshus? There is a fundamental piece in Hemshech Ayin-Beis that clarifies this subject and gives us the tools to properly experience our awareness of ourselves. The Rebbe Rashab explains two levels of self-awareness: the awareness of a king and the awareness of a minister. We can take these two kinds of consciousness and find them within ourselves. I’ll try to summarize the idea. The Rebbe explains that the term melech b’etzem (inherent kingship) expresses the quality the king has before he is revealed to the people, for he is a king even before he rules the people. Although there are levels of elevated stature and not everyone can rule over a large kingdom, a king will still not attempt to rule over a country that does not suit him, for the concept of king is that he expresses the degree of elevation that he has within him
In my experience, the more people study the psyche and understand it according to current theories, the more amazed they are by Chassidic ideas about the psyche.
right way to do it is to devote time to it and review the material. How do you translate what you learn into daily life? As in the quote from the HaYom Yom mentioned earlier, a Chassid needs to believe that he can extract lessons in avoda and the refinement of middos from even deep topics. When he believes that it pertains to him, he will look for the relevance within the haskala of the maamarim. But not everyone is capable of learning about “memalei,” “sovev,” and “mochin d’abba” and deriving anything from it for daily life! A Chassid needs to invest into his learning of Chassidus, and learn a lot of it, while knowing and believing that Chassidus is his guide in life in the most
If a Chassid approaches these maamarim fearing that they won’t pertain to him and are too lofty for him, then it won’t be relevant and he won’t relate to it. We can’t denigrate ourselves. In order to feel connected a Chassid needs courage, and maybe even a bit of pride in the positive sense, in order to know that it pertains to everyone and is written specifically for him. After all, it was printed for us. One of the chiddushim of Chassidus is the goal to bring G-dly haskala into the world. This is primarily what the Rebbeim did. In Chassidus there are many lofty “lights,” and they need to be brought down into our behavior, our middos, fixing our middos, etc. Can you give us an example
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inherently and not that which he doesn’t have. The elevation of a minister, by contrast, does not express what he really is, but how others elevate him. And therefore, explains the Rebbe, this tends towards exaggeration since it doesn’t come from an accurate assessment of his essential worth but from an assessment made by those around him who exalt him. This is why a minister is likely to try to lift himself up even beyond where the people have elevated him. This is a dangerous state of affairs because it is not his true worth and he can fall, i.e. lose all the qualities he acquired relative to his environment. Using this analogy of the king and the minister, the Rebbe explains the difference between bittul consciousness and yeshus consciousness: The sense of loftiness of the minister is called yeshus since there is a sense of his worth and importance that causes him to look down on everyone else. Why does he do this? Because he doesn’t have an intrinsic sense of self worth. His standing is assessed in comparison to others, which is why he needs to denigrate others in order to be worth something himself. If the other person has value, he cannot feel his own importance. However, says the Rebbe, belittling others comes from attributing too much significance to the other person. In other words, since his value hinges on the other person, the other person becomes a key factor in determining his own personal worth, which is why he feels threatened by him. This is like the person who cares too much about other people’s opinions, and as such feels the need to disparage others in order to feel
Rabbi Yitzchok Arad learning Hemshech Ayin-Beis with talmidim
Belittling others comes from attributing too much significance to the other person. In other words, since his value hinges on the other person, the other person becomes a key factor in determining his own personal worth, which is why he feels threatened by him.
greater than they. The elevated quality of the king is intrinsic; therefore he doesn’t feel threatened by another person. Nobody can take away or provide him with what he already really is. That’s the idea as it appears in the maamer. If we take this idea and apply it to our world, we can see that there are two forms of consciousness and self-valuation existing within a person: The first is an evaluation of self based on what others think, i.e. the person’s sense of self worth hinges on the other person. The person, in and of himself, lacks any intrinsic value and it is only in the context of his interactions with the environment that his worth is established. Since he is raised above others, they admire and respect him. He considers himself valuable because of his achievements. But without all this, in his own right, he does not have value. The second is an essential evaluation, i.e. the person assesses himself without any dependency on others, but only in terms of what the person himself is, and not because of what people give or take from him. Naturally, there is a give and take relationship between him and others and his self worth is expressed in his relationship Continued on page 35
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ne year ago, a new movie was released called Makom Batuach (Safe Place), which depicts the miracles of the Gulf War and the calming prophecies of the Rebbe in a well plotted and professional way. The movie was produced by Aharon Urian along with a group of Lubavitcher young men straight from yeshiva and kollel. They succeeded in producing a gripping motion picture that has fascinated thousands of children, while conveying the Rebbe’s prophecy about Eretz Yisroel being the safest place in the world. The movie contains the “lights of Tohu” within the most professional “vessels of Tikkun” and presents a message that can be absorbed by even those groups that are far from Chabad.
TEST Of fAITH ON THE SET
Ask anyone involved in movie
production and you will hear how even the best laid plans never quite work out when it comes to the details, since a producer is dependent on numerous other people and factors. When someone produces a movie whose main goal is to bring the Rebbe into every Jewish home in the most fascinating and professional way, the task becomes almost impossible. Viewing this project as a shlichus, the Lubavitcher producers chose not to look at the obstacles as problems but as challenges; or, if you will, as another opportunity to prove to the non-Chabad team that the Rebbe is working with them. *** Some of the scenes in the movie were filmed in Yaffo. One day, the art director, Shneur Arad, was waiting at the shooting site. The Urian brothers were making their way towards Yaffo with Yaniv Shavit, the boy who
played the main role in the movie, along with the photographers and the sound and light technicians. On their way, they saw the sky turning dark. They could see it was about to pour. They had forgotten to check the forecast, and the only thing they could do at that point was cancel a day of shooting. For those of our readers who are unaware, canceling a day of shooting entails an immediate loss of tens of thousands of shekels. The shoot itself involves many costly arrangements, including working out a schedule with all the actors so that they don’t have any conflicting appearances or performances that evening, renting expensive equipment at the cost of thousands of shekels, and working out the logistics and location issues during the shooting itself. They felt that they really had no other choice but to continue on, and they
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By Mendel Tzfasman; Photos by Mendy Hechtman
approached the location with much apprehension. In the meantime, Shneur, the art director in Yaffo with his team, was telling Aharon and his staff: In Yaffo it’s pouring! On the way, they stopped at a professional photography store and bought everything the store offered for photography in the rain – umbrellas, protective gear, etc. However, when they arrived, after setting up all the equipment, they saw that running in the rain was dangerous for the actor who slipped time after time. Aharon said, partly to himself and partly to everyone else, that they had to ask the Rebbe for a bracha that the rain stop. Yaniv Shavit, the young actor, asked in astonishment, “How can the Rebbe make the rain stop?” Aharon, short on patience, brusquely answered, “He just can.” Aharon called the Igros Kodesh center. The operator asked him what he was calling about and Aharon snapped, “A request for a bracha that the rains stop in Yaffo.” The man on the other end of the line said, “Why? They are rains of blessing!” Urian said, “They just shouldn’t fall in Yaffo. It’s an important mivtzaim matter, I can’t elaborate, but we need a bracha. It must stop raining.” Aharon gave him the full names of all the people on the set including the production staff, and he made a good hachlata. The atmosphere was electric. Even the Lubavitchers on the site looked doubtfully at Aharon as he spoke on the phone while the rain beat down. The answer in the Igros Kodesh was read out loud by Aharon. The Rebbe wrote: Unlike previously, when problems were solved by fasting and affliction, today they are solved by simcha. May the simcha be above the natural way of things. In the meantime, the rain had turned to hail. All eyes were on Aharon. He knew that now nothing was in his hands. Just another five minutes passed and suddenly, despite forecasts of ongoing rain, the rain stopped completely. The sun shone and Yaffo dried up. The set was completely dry and ready for shooting. Yaniv Shavit was stunned. For the purposes of the movie, he played an irreligious child who gets pulled in by a Lubavitcher friend, whose lines are full of admiration for the Rebbe and his prophecies. Now, he suddenly felt the truth of the story that he was portraying. At the end of the scene, he went over to Aharon and said he wanted to ask the Rebbe for a bracha that he would be accepted into the drama department of “Telem Ayalim,” considered the best arts school
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in Israel. Every semester, only 30 students are accepted out of 150 who try out. On the final day of shooting, in the middle of the shoot, Yaniv got a phone call from his mother, telling him that he had been accepted to the school. Actually, that sums up the story of the Chassidic movie production company “Olam U’Melo’o.” It is the story of the amazing dynamic between a group of Chassidishe young men and bachurim who do not compromise on anything, not professionally and certainly not on the message, and the actors they work with who are from another world and joined for professional or personal reasons, and who ultimately end up relating strongly to the message. It is no surprise then that auditoriums where Makom Batuach is shown are filled with all brands of religious people and even people who are not yet observant. to produce a movie for the big screen using expensive HD (high definition) cameras, with some of the movie filmed on huge studio sets that were built especially for the movie. The movie Makom Batuach is not sold in stores. It is only shown at Chabad houses and at Chabad events. The idea to produce a movie about the Gulf War prophecies came up after dozens of other ideas were discussed and rejected. Then someone proposed that they take advantage of the timing of twenty years since the miracles of the Gulf War and put the prophecies and miracles of those days into an exciting movie. It took quite some time for Aharon (director, producer, and screen writer) to construct the plot. The parameters he set for himself were demanding. On the one hand, the plot had to be exciting and not directly connected to the prophecies. On the other hand, the Rebbe had to be brought into the script and his prophecies about Eretz Yisroel being the safest place had to be expressed directly. He also had to provide plot continuity, ongoing suspense and plot twists, while making the Rebbe and the prophecy of Geula the primary focus of the movie and not just add-ons. It sounded impossible, but Aharon did not give up. He had learned the secrets of screenwriting, had studied the history of the Gulf War, and had delved into what the Rebbe said at the time of the war. He also met frequently with Ariel Cohen, a screenwriter and movie critic who directed him in his work, even as Aharon maintained a steady focus on the guiding principle, namely that the focal point of the movie be about the Rebbe.
A MISSILE LANDS ON THE SHLIACH’S HOUSE
The movie tells the story of Shimi Greenfeld (played by Yaniv Shavit), an American boy whose younger brother Nati drowned while on a yachting outing with his father a few years earlier in Eretz Yisroel. Everybody had been sure that Nati had died, but Shimi who was very close to him refused to believe that his brother had died. In his work as director for the BBC in New York, his father (played by Evyatar Lazar) is asked by Joel Rubinson (played by Nati Ravitz), a family friend working as a reporter for the television station, for a budget allocation so he can fly to Eretz Yisroel and report on the country’s feelings about the impending Gulf War. Shimi, hearing about the possibility of flying with Joel, manages to convince his father to let him come along. Shortly after they arrive in Eretz Yisroel, Shimi meets Mendy Mittelman, a Lubavitcher boy his age, and together they try to track down his lost brother. The plot develops in surprising ways, but then the war begins and the reporter decides to return to New York. Shimi, having heard dozens of times from Mendy and his father that the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that there is nothing to be frightened of and Eretz Yisroel is the safest place, is not afraid to stay and is unwilling to leave without Nati. Missiles explode in the street. The streets are deserted and the shelves in stores empty of goods. Frightening sirens break the silence of the night and have everyone dashing for their sealed rooms. Lubavitchers are calm since they rely on the Rebbe. One of the dramatic scenes takes place when Shimi goes
AT THE CENTER Of THE PLOT – THE REBBE
The movie Makom Batuach, which was produced by the Lubavitcher company Olam U’Melo’o, is not the first production effort made by Aharon Chaim Urian, Dovid Urian, and Shneur Zalman Arad. Two years ago, they and a talented team produced a movie called Shlichus in Africa. That movie, which they worked on for two months, represented a giant step forward as far as movies being produced for religious children. It was a Chassidishe story about emuna, hiskashrus and bittul to the Rebbe and about the Rebbe’s concern for every Jew. A year later, they decided
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with Joel to the airport to return to the US. Suddenly, a missile lands on Mendy’s house with him inside and the house collapses. They fearfully enter the ruins, go past the wrecked sealed room, and find Mendy in his Tzivos Hashem room sitting on his bed, frightened though perfectly fine. Joel calls for a photographer to broadcast from the “scene of the missile attack.” Mendy’s father (played by Michoel Veigel), a Tankist, uses the media opportunity to project confidence in the Rebbe’s words, in light of the open demonstration that Hashem protects the Jews. Mendy discloses to Shimi that he found evidence that Nati is alive and in Yaffo. Then, as Shimi is with Joel at the airport, with the plane tickets in their hands, the turning point takes place. On television, Mutti Eden’s report from New York about what the Rebbe says about the situation in Eretz Yisroel and his prophecy that this is part of the Geula process, is broadcast. Shimi, who sees the Rebbe speaking on television with absolute confidence about Eretz Yisroel being the safest place, decides to stay. The Rebbe’s words “a land that has Hashem your G-d’s eyes upon it from the beginning of the year till the end of the year” echo in his head. He starts running back, and Joel, under pressure from the war and concerned about missing the flight, runs after him in the airport. The story has a happy ending that also highlights the impact of the idea of “the safest place.” Despite all the predictions, Shimi finds Nati, in the middle of the war, between sirens. Joel has a nice item to report and Mendy is happy because everyone saw that the Rebbe is right. Upon their
Scene in a car
Yaniv Shavit was stunned. For the purposes of the movie, he played an irreligious child who gets pulled in by a Lubavitcher friend, and whose lines are full of admiration for the Rebbe and his prophecies. Now, he suddenly felt the truth of the story that he was portraying.
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Preparing to film the scene in the car
return to the US, the reporter is then able to tell the viewers about the fulfillment of the Rebbe’s prophecy that the war would be over by Purim. Urian and Shneur Arad (the art director and line producer, also responsible for finding locations) passed a door with a sign that read: “The Council to Develop Historic Yaffo.” Shneur stuck his head in the door and said, “Ho, this is just the place we need.” Aharon tried to talk him out of his illusions, but he was already inside. “What do you care? Let’s try. We have nothing to lose,” he insisted. A respectable looking gentleman came over and asked what they wanted. Shneur mumbled, “We want to film a movie here.” The man, apparently the director, said, “That is possible, but we charge a lot of money.” Aharon motioned to Shneur something to the effect of “I told you so,” but then the director asked, “One minute, you are Lubavitchers?” When they said yes, they were, he asked, “Do you know Rabbi Kaplan?” The truth is that they did not know him personally, but Lubavitchers always know Lubavitchers and they said yes. The director had attended a Purim seuda with R’ Kaplan (shliach in a small yishuv near Rechovos) and was amazed by the hospitality and simcha. “If R’ Kaplan agrees, then I’ll give you the place for free,” he said, and he immediately called R’ Kaplan. When Shneur took the phone, he said a hearty “Shalom Aleichem” as an old friend would do and then told the shliach what they wanted and what the director had said. R’ Kaplan was happy to get involved, and he asked the director to enable the Chabadnikim to film the movie about the Rebbe. The director not only allowed them to film, but let them use all the rooms. He even changed the office hours to accommodate them and let them store their expensive equipment there during the two days of shooting in the office. The results? You have to see it. It looks as though you got permission to film in the airport. Which one was it – Sdeh Dov or the old Ben Gurion airport? (Laughing): You want us to reveal all our professional secrets? Neither one. We rented a place, built a photo set and “built” an airport. Although we could have obtained permits, aside from the prohibitive costs, it would have detracted from the quality in other respects. We decided that since the scene at the airport was very important, it had to have a television that would broadcast the reporter from 770. It also could not have any women passing by or any immodest pictures. It was important to us to pan the shots to and from the boy to create the sense of churning thoughts in reaction to the words of the Rebbe. In order to do all that, we had to create a place that was just ours. The same goes for Shimi’s house. Shneur simply made a house out of nothing. He put up plaster walls, furnished it with old couches, bookshelves with s’farim, an old picture of the Rebbe and of 770 and it gave the effect of a Chassidishe home. The house filmed on the inside is not the house that you see from the outside. The house, one in Kfar Chabad that “collapsed” during the Gulf War, was made to look as though it is collapsing in real time by Dovid, my brother (director of photography, editor), through computer technology. The inside of the house was “destroyed” in deliberate fashion using stones, dust, trees, and parts of walls with the help of a
LANDING IN YAffO
Filming on location is complicated and almost impossible on a limited budget, and without backup funding or other support, but when a Chassid goes with the power of the meshaleiach, doors open for him. That sums up how the team obtained permission to film in Yaffo (the Arab house where Nati, who had amnesia, was). It was very hard to get permission to film in Tel Aviv-Yaffo. In order to film a professional movie on the streets of Tel Aviv, you need permission in writing from the Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality. This permit entails a two week process of navigating intricate bureaucratic red tape involving the police, the fire department, life insurance, third party damage insurance, and of course a lot of money. Aside from that, in most cases, after all the permits are finally in order, the city still weeds out some requests, apparently based on political and other considerations. Even after getting a permit from the Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality, one has to start the process over again with the “Council to Develop Yaffo.” Nevertheless, the production team decided to do what it could to make the movie as professional and authentic as possible, in order to portray the Rebbe’s prophecy in the most professional manner. They tried locating Arabs in Yaffo who would be willing to rent them their homes for a few hours for filming. As they were walking, Aharon
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Dovid Urian, Aharon Urian and Shneur Arad during filming
smoke machine, suitable lighting and music. The total effect is of a house that has been felled by a missile. How much did it cost to produce the film? The cost of the film was 150,000 shekel. Compared to major films, that’s considered a small budget, but it’s a lot for movies in the frum world which hasn’t seen anything of this caliber and rightfully so. The fact that many in the frum world reject the medium outright makes it hard for producers to invest so much in a film. Why did it cost so much to make a movie? It entailed months of work, starting with writing the script until the final editing and designing the advertisements. The equipment included some very high quality items which were rented at a very high cost.
For the sound alone we hired a professional who was sensitive to the slightest sound, even the breathing of the man behind the camera. I am pleased to be able to compliment my brother Dovid, who filmed on a level of veteran filmmakers. The good chemistry between us contributed a lot to the work process and the final results. These are all subtle things, but the overall picture means the difference between a typical movie and a professional product. Add to that the salaries of the professional actors, location costs and salary costs for the extended staff, which sometimes numbered twenty people on a set! Are there funding grants that help projects like this? These funding organizations will agree to help if the movie advances their agenda or will
promote their message. It was important to us to convey a specific message, not to produce a movie. So why should so much be invested into a movie – is it worth the effort and expense? Don’t Lubavitcher children deserve to enjoy quality productions that convey our messages? Hasn’t the time come for the young generation to learn in an experiential way? Aside from that, we wanted to bring our messages to the religious viewer with the best actors, quality content and quality filming; all this, so that they would relate to the film, be impressed by the quality and absorb the message. In the round of showings that we held, we saw that the messages were easily absorbed. Even Litvish and Chassidishe mechanchim who came with their children or students, as
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well as those who came earlier on to preview the movie, were impressed and asked us to continue producing quality movies. Even for the not yet religious viewer, being exposed to a movie like Makom Batuach breaks the stereotype that religious movies are not interesting and are not quality productions. We got this feedback from dozens of Chabad houses that screened the movie. How did you pay to produce this movie? We would like to publicly thank R’ Levi Yitzchok Nachshon, director of Tzivos Hashem in Eretz Yisroel, who encouraged us, directed us, and gave us the financial support to produce this movie which, Boruch Hashem, has proven itself worthwhile. The movie is not available on DVD but can be seen only in public viewings on a large screen. This preserves the quality of the picture and the sound and helps cover the enormous expenses. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the mesirus nefesh of the Lubavitcher team who devoted themselves to the success of this project, especially the talented producer Daniel Natanalov who served as set director, even on all the complicated scenes, and made sure that the instructions of the movie director would reach all the men and children on the set. limit. It’s insane! Scud missiles, chemical weapons. You want to jump into the fire? Nati Ravitz played the role of the cynical reporter. Ravitz, who in real life wears a kippa, davens in a Chabad minyan, says Chitas and is very close with Chabad, said the words with the proper emphasis, but Aharon felt that his body language conveyed his respect for the Rebbe and Chabad Chassidim. He cut the scene and asked Ravitz, “Nati, say it with all the anger in the world that exists towards Chabad.” Later on, in the scene where Joel who had played the oppositional character representing all the skeptics and cynics of those days goes on to sum up in a direct broadcast from Eretz Yisroel on Purim his amazement over the conclusion of the war and the Rebbe’s prophecy that was fulfilled, you see the theatrical concept of “screen manipulation” come to life. When the message is conveyed by someone you would not have expected to hear it from, that makes it that much more powerful and readily accepted. We look forward to the next production and enthusiastically recommend Makom Batuach for those who haven’t seen it yet to see it with some mekuravim (yes, even adults enjoy it).
During one of the scenes, which were shown in the promotion of the movie, Shimi is seen going to the room in the hotel and telling Joel what he heard from the Lubavitchers. Shimi: Joel, do you want to hear something strange? Joel: What? Shimi hesitates: I heard them say there is no need to be afraid. The … Lubavitcher Rebbe says that Eretz Yisroel is the safest place in the world. He says not to leave. Joel: I don’t buy it, Shimi. They delude themselves; and anyway, what connection does the Lubavitcher Rebbe have with this? Shimi: I don’t know. You yourself did not stop praising him when you came back after visiting him. I have to stay here Joel. I must. Joel: Shimi, I am a reporter. I know very well what is going to happen here. With all my respect for the Rebbe, I see the reality. I am very happy that the Chabadnikim are convinced all will be fine, but there is a
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By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
MOSES’ PERSONAL REQUEST
When Moses was told he was not going to lead the Jewish nation into the Promised Land, Moses asked G-d to appoint a successor. Indeed, Moses, in his concern for the well-being of his people, requested a leader who would be capable and selfless. Moses’ concern for the future of his people prompted Rashi to make the following comment: “This teaches us the praise of the righteous. When they depart from this world, they put aside their own needs and engage with the needs of the community.” According to Rashi, Moses’ instinctive reaction to the notification that he would depart from this world was to focus his attention on the welfare of his nation.
Yet, in the very next verse, Rashi comments that when Moses heard how G-d gave the daughters of Tz’lafchad their father’s inheritance, he said, “The time has come for me to demand my needs; my son shall inherit my exalted position.” G-d’s response was that Joshua, Moses’ faithful disciple, would be his successor and not his own son.
Rashi seems to be contradicting himself by first suggesting that Moses had no personal concerns and then stating that, indeed, Moses had requested a personal favor; that his son should succeed him. Another question: How could it be that Moses desired that his son succeed him? Would that not be an egotistical desire to have his son assume the mantle of leadership and carry on the family name and tradition? Moses, about whom G-d testifies that he was “the most humble man on the face of the earth,” could not possibly be concerned with his own legacy. Furthermore, prior to Moses’ passing, he had reached the pinnacle of human development. If he ever possessed even a trace of self-interest, he certainly would have purged himself of these ambitions before his passing. At this juncture in his life, he certainly was not obsessed with his own legacy. Why, then, did he focus on his son succeeding him at precisely this time? A third question: Didn’t Moses know that none his children were as worthy as Joshua to serve as the leader? Why, then, would he ask for his son to succeed him at the expense of the Jewish nation who needed their leader to be the most qualified?
And one final question: In the preceding parsha of Chukas— where the Torah relates the passing of Aaron and how he was succeeded by his son Elazar as High Priest—Rashi observes that Moses was informed that he would not merit having his own children succeed him in the way Aaron’s son had succeeded his own father. Why, then, did he now revisit the matter that had already been decided?
ACCEDING TO G-D’S wILL
The simple answer to these questions is that, in truth, Moses was not thinking of himself and his personal needs. However, when he realized that the very last words of instructions from G-d to him concerned the inheritance of a child—the daughters of Tz’lafchad—he concluded that G-d was hinting to him that a family member should inherit the estate—and, by extension, the position—of his or her father. Thus, Moses only thought of asking for his own son’s selection as his successor when he surmised that it was G-d’s will to keep things in the family. Moses’ concern for his own need was actually counterintuitive for him. He only thought of it when it was his impression that it was G-d’s will that a child inherit. Moses’
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Furthermore, prior to Moses’ passing, he had reached the pinnacle of human development. If he ever possessed even a trace of self-interest, he certainly would have purged himself of these ambitions before his passing.
“self-interest” was actually motivated by his devotion to carry out G-d’s will even when it went counter to his own nature, which was to shun honor and selfish ambition. And this is the hallmark of all great Jewish leaders throughout history, from Moses to Moshiach. They shunned leadership and all of its glory. Only when they were “compelled” by G-d’s explicit or implicit command to them to assume the mantle of leadership, or when they realized that their service was needed, did they reluctantly agree to sacrifice their own interests and accept the role of leader. more glaring in light of the fact that the Biblical source as to how we should pray is the story of Chana, the mother of the prophet Shmuel, who prayed fervently for a child. Yet, our most essential prayer, which is modeled after her prayer, omits any mention of our children! One approach to resolving this matter is to suggest that, in fact, all of what we are asking of G-d is for our children. When we ask for health and other matters, we are thinking primarily of our children’s health, etc. Moreover, even when we ask for ourselves we are truly asking for our children. We need health for our children’s sake. We need to make a living for our children’s sake. We need Redemption for our children’s sake. There is no need to mention our children and their needs as one of our explicit requests because they are implicit in all of our requests. Praying for ourselves might be regarded as selfish, but praying for our children is not. Indeed, if it is selfish, then it is the ultimate “kosher” and holy form of selfinterest. We can now better appreciate Moses’ “selfish” request for his son to succeed him as leader. Moses was not interested in his son becoming the leader for selfish reasons. Moses had no concern for his legacy. Moreover, even if he was interested in a legacy, he was already guaranteed a place in history as the Jewish nation’s liberator, first leader, giver of the Torah, greatest prophet, etc. Moses had only his children’s interest in mind.
Surely, Moses must have known that they were not as qualified as Joshua. Nevertheless, he wanted his son to assume this position because, in doing so, he would be elevated and would grow. Surely, if G-d appointed his son to a position of leadership, he would be endowed with the requisite power and inspiration to fulfill his mission. This premise is based on the Talmudic dictum that when one is elevated to a position of leadership, his sins are forgiven. Moses was leaving us with twin lessons as to how we must view our children’s needs. First, our children’s needs are our most important needs. And second, obsession with our children’s needs is not selfish.
wHY DID MOSES wAIT?
One can still wonder why Moses waited until this point to focus his attention on his children. The answer is that Moses was compelled by the responsibilities of his position, imposed on him by G-d, to sacrifice everything for the sake of the entire Jewish nation. However, prior to Moses’ passing, when G-d instructed him about the laws of inheritance, he took that as a cue that he now had an obligation to focus on his children’s future as well. He thought that he had been given the license to pursue his “selfish” desires for his own children.
DEfINING A PERSONAL NEED
On another level, one may answer all of the questions raised above by reevaluating the notion of Moses’ personal needs. Moses’ desire that his son succeed him is rooted in the way Judaism views our responsibility for our children’s physical and spiritual welfare. We can develop a better understanding of the above by the following example: Our most important prayer— the Shmoneh Esrei (Eighteen Benedictions, also known as the Amida-the Standing Prayer)— contains the requests we make of G-d for our most important needs. They include: health, livelihood, freedom, justice and the ultimate Redemption through Moshiach. Conspicuously absent among these requests is the request for children and their well-being! This omission is even
REDEMPTION fOR OUR CHILDREN’S SAKE
There are multiple reasons why we crave—and ought to crave—Redemption. First and foremost, the Redemption is for G-d’s sake, for, as our Sages teach, He too “suffers” in exile with us. The fact that G-d’s presence is so concealed is
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“painful” for G-d and it should be painful for us, His children. However, there are also selfish reasons why we pray for Moshiach. Moshiach will bring peace, tranquility, prosperity, good health and all the other material blessings we are so lacking in the period of exile. To desire Moshiach for those selfish reasons is not bad, but it is not the ideal motivation for Redemption. However, when we ask for those very blessings for our children’s sake, it changes the entire dynamic. Our concern for our children is a reflection of G-d’s care for His children.
Moses was leaving us with twin lessons as to how we must view our children’s needs. First, our children’s needs are our most important needs. And second, obsession with our children’s needs is not selfish.
Caring for our children is no less a spiritual and G-dly endeavor than praying and learning Torah. It is our way of emulating G-d and incorporating His attribute of love and attachment to His children in our own lives. By all means, desire Moshiach for selfish reasons! But by focusing on Redemption for the benefit of our children, we transform our selfish interests into selfless and G-dly interests. That attitude, in and of itself, is what hastens the process of Redemption and makes us more receptive to the G-dly energies that will be revealed at that time—when the most powerful bond between G-d, our Father, and Israel, His children, will be cemented.
Continued from page 25 with others, but the inner and essential core of his self-value is not dependent on others. These two forms of consciousness seem alike, since to the observer it looks as though in both cases, the person values himself. Nevertheless, there is a vast difference between them. The value which is dependent on others is called yeshus in Chassidus, and it is the source of quarrels and hatred. Essential value which comes from the essence of a person is called bittul in Chassidus and it is the source for the ability of truly connecting with others. Developing a consciousness of self-valuation which is not dependent on others will open up the possibility for true love for them and the ability to get close without being frightened or threatened by the other’s existence. Regarding a self worth which comes from yeshus, a person will only want to connect with those who make him feel good and better than they are, since the very fact that they are
lower than he is and raise him up provides him with a sense of importance and self worth. This is one of the fundamental ideas which enable us to understand what consists of proper awareness of self, the proper way for a person to relate to himself. The modern vernacular speaks a lot of the idea of “self-awareness,” but in the maamarim of Ayin-Beis it speaks about it in a much deeper way and at great length as it explains how the ability to be inclusive of others comes from a place of essential being, and not at the expense of one’s true being. When a person feels that he has his place, this enables him to give to others and to receive from others without feeling diminished thereby. Here is a most basic idea with its correct outlook, as there is no term more basic than bittul (and yeshus). With the explanations in Hemshech Ayin-Beis, we have a completely different understanding of terms that are so often repeated, but not necessarily properly understood. With this new perspective, we
now feel that what Hashem gave us suits us, and this enables us to respects others and be battul to others. This outlook does away with nonstop fighting. It’s a wonderful example of lofty concepts that appear in the hemshech from which we can derive applications for our daily lives. I know that professionals such as psychologists attend your classes. What do they think of these ideas? In my experience, the more people study the psyche and understand it according to current theories, the more amazed they are by Chassidic ideas about the psyche. What is your message in this hundredth year since the maamarim were said? At this time, when everything is ready for the Geula and the Rebbe says we need to live Geula, i.e. that G-dliness is out in the open and we just need to open our eyes to see it, one of the important ways of doing so is by learning Maamarei Chassidus in general and specifically the Hemshech Ayin-Beis.
Issue 841 • �
ZEIDE’S CHUMASHIM AND MY SIDDUR
By Rabbi Yehoshua Dubrawski a”h
A RARE TREASURE: A SIDDUR!
My grandparents’ home attracted us grandchildren not only because of the warmth and pleasantness, but also because there was always something delicious to eat, something we did not have at home. I was also drawn there for something else that nobody knew about, since I did not tell anyone. At my age and because of my personality, I could not express it clearly. In our house we had a significant amount of s’farim, relatively speaking, that ZeideRav collected. I don’t know how many there were, but I greatly desired riffling through them, even though the things I saw and understood were like “a chicken amongst men.” Nevertheless, here and there I gleaned something from them. In contrast, the Siddurim situation in our house was different. We had two or three Siddurim for davening and bentching that were so worn out and torn that it was a pity to pick them up. Unfortunately, in our childhood we did not have enough understanding and sensitivity to hold on to these precious treasures, Siddurim that generations had prayed from
and poured out their hearts and shed so many Jewish tears while reading their words. The reason for having so few Siddurim was very simple. In those days, and many years before that, it was not possible to buy a new Siddur, Chumash, T’hillim or other s’farim in Soviet Russia. Sadly, I had very little desire to daven or say a bracha out of a Siddur whose pages fell apart in my hands. I came up with a plan. I knew where there were some big Siddurim that were published with Chassidus from the Alter Rebbe. They were complete, and I began davening from them. The truth must be said. It was a bit uncomfortable to daven as I did, when it seemed to me that the holy letters of Chassidus in the margins of the Siddur were looking at me sternly and “hearing” how I davened. In addition, Zeide was not pleased by my having “schlepped” the Siddurim with Chassidus, so I had to refrain from the great desire to daven from them.
A PROBLEM Of ARI’NIKES
It was completely different in the home of my Karasik grandparents. I don’t know why but they had two complete
Siddurim. In addition, my grandfather Chaim Benzion had s’farim that I had not seen anywhere until then. He had a set of Mikraos G’dolos Chumashim from the best publishers, Rohm of Vilna. They were new and had all the commentaries. The biggest chiddush to me was that at the end of the set of Chumashim were narrow columns with all the prayers for weekdays and Shabbos. The letters were small but very clear. And at the end of the Chumashim was the entire T’hillim! Something else that I considered a marvel was that the Nusach was that of the Arizal. I never found this anywhere else. Zeide Chaim Benzion also had a pocket Siddur that was nearly new in Nusach Ari. He would let a grandchild daven from this Siddur only when the grandchild promised to daven word by word and to take good care of the Siddur as he davened. I once found an old, torn Chumash that had the weekday and Shabbos davening at the end. My joy was boundless since it was Nusach Ari. There were many torn Chumashim around with the davening at the end, but they weren’t Nusach Ari. Although the letters were tiny, as they were at the back of all Chumashim, the pages were intact, nearly new, and the main thing was – it was Nusach Ari.
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I can never forget special moments. By nature, I was choleric and irascible. I felt anguish over things that other children did not care about. For example, I was infuriated over the fact that nearly all the Siddurim in the Chumashim that I saw were not Nusach Ari! Why? Being a child, I did not reason logically and so I felt a great injustice was perpetrated against us because we were Nusach Ari’nikes. Then, one day, I mustered the courage to ask my father – why didn’t they print more Siddurim with Nusach Ari? My father smiled and asked whether this bothered me. I probably nodded my head and I remember that my father was very pleased by this. He explained to me that they printed fewer Chumashim with Nusach Ari not because they were opposed to us but because we, Nusach Ari’nikes, were few in number compared to those who were not Nusach Ari’nikes.
My father apparently “took my pulse” at this point to see whether my anger came from being a Lubavitcher. I remember that I nearly shouted, “No! I am happy and satisfied!” My father smiled once again and said something to the effect: That which is truly true, holy and good is found in very small numbers in the world. So my joy was double when I found a Chumash with a Nusach Ari Siddur in it. I took out all the pages of the Siddur and began binding them into a thin Siddur. I had never watched a bookbinder, but surely I would be able to bind so few pages together, I figured. My father brought me glue from the shed and my mother got white sheets of paper and some
Then, one day, I mustered the courage to ask my father – why didn’t they print more Siddurim with Nusach Ari? My father smiled and asked whether this bothered me. I probably nodded my head and I remember that my father was very pleased by this and said something to the effect: That which is truly true, holy and good is found in very small numbers in the world.
cardboard from somewhere, and after a few days I kissed my Siddur. I had this Siddur all the way through those bitter days of starvation in Samarkand, and there it disappeared. During my childhood, I did not know what it meant to kiss anything aside from a Torah scroll. In my early childhood I went to shul with my father until they stole it away from us. So kissing my thin Siddur had an especially sweet taste. At first, it was hard for me to part from my Siddur. I would daven from it three times a day, every day. It seemed to me that I davened better from this Siddur than from other Siddurim. Aside from that, I may have had feelings of “ownership.” After all, this Siddur was the only thing that was “all mine,” my real treasure (my total collection of possessions consisted of a few pieces of scrap metal that I took a fancy to). Among my possessions was a shirt with a pocket where I could put my Siddur. In the good days, I changed my shirt every week. When it came time to change the shirt with the Siddur in the pocket, I begged my mother to let me wear the shirt for another few days. Continued on page 40
Issue 841 • �
“Siddur im Dach - Siddur with Chassidus”
“THE APPROACH SHOULD BE
every leader must know that the only way to bring peace and security is “that the approach should be according to Mr. shamir’s.” not the Mr. shamir of the Madrid conference, but the Mr. shamir from the preceding election campaign, when he proclaimed that the surest way to bring true peace is not to give an inch.
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
LIKE MR. SHAMIR’S”
that merely talking to terrorists will lead to bloodshed and a weakening of Jewish strength. “Prime ministers make mistakes, leaders make mistakes, but not the Rebbe,” Shamir told Pikovsky during their discussion. Joining Shamir’s Madrid delegation to perform a leading role there was an up and coming political star in Israeli politics – Binyamin Netanyahu. At the time, Bibi symbolized tremendous promise for rightwing leadership. However, it didn’t seem to bother him that he would be going to a conference as an official representative of the government of Israel, meeting for the first time with the heads of terrorist organizations to discuss conditions for a future peace agreement. Netanyahu, ever the polished politician, certainly recalls what was going on behind the scenes, when Shamir tried with all his might to halt any recognition of a Palestinian state, claiming that he was only participating in the Madrid Conference to ease the tremendous pressure being placed upon him by the United States.
Last week, the citizens of Eretz Yisroel accompanied former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir a”h to his final resting place. While he was one of the most prominent “hawks” of the country’s political rightwing, he was also the first prime minister that the ultranationalists dared to topple in the middle of a parliamentary term of office. Mr. Shamir’s leadership remains controversial. The right-wing has engaged in a constant self-examination over the past two decades since his fall from political power, regarding whether it was proper to bring down his government and call for new elections, which returned Yitzchak Rabin to the premiership and eventually gave us the tragic Oslo Accords. No one can say for certain what would have happened if the ultra-nationalists hadn’t toppled
Shamir, but his name forever stands in the annals of history as the right-wing leader who went to the Madrid Conference and paid the ultimate political price. His unyielding stance against the establishment of a Palestinian state and any territorial compromise on Eretz HaKodesh has long since been forgotten. It was also revealed last week that Shamir expressed regret for participating in the Madrid Conference, acknowledging that it was a mistake to agree to negotiate with terrorist organizations. In a conversation with Chabad businessman R’ Ami Pikovsky, Shamir said that he thought that he could stand firm in Madrid, believing that going to the conference would not necessarily lead to the recognition of a Palestinian state. Shamir admitted that the Rebbe was right to oppose Israeli participation in the summit, when he warned
Mr. Netanyahu would be well advised to take notice and learn from the mistakes of his predecessor. This is the exact same scenario that he is trying to create now: He claims that he only agreed to a freeze on
38 � • 23 Tammuz 5772
construction in Yehuda and Shomron because of pressure from the Obama Administration, which is interested in his meeting with Abu Mazen (may his name be erased). American pressure was also the reason why he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in his speech at Bar-Ilan University. In short, Netanyahu places the blame for all of the dangerous policy initiatives that he has carried out during the past several years upon U.S. pressure, suggesting that it had been designed to give the Americans a legitimate reason to abandon its quixotic plans for a Palestinian state. At the beginning of the current term, the prime minister’s close advisors claimed that he was placing extreme and far-reaching conditions for a PLO state, e.g., the entity must be demilitarized and it must recognize the Jewish state, thereby making the Arabs responsible for the failed proposal and putting an end to the pressure from the United States. However, as the term progressed, these talks were replaced by a clear call for the murderer Abu Mazen to come to the negotiating table for the purpose of reaching “a true peace agreement” and beginning talks on Israeli withdrawals from the Jordan Valley. It would be appropriate for the prime minister to come to the realization that when one starts vacillating and compromising, there’s no way to stop it. Mr. Netanyahu would be better off if he learned from the bitter experience of his late predecessor. While Mr. Shamir adamantly opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state, nevertheless his concession in agreeing to an “autonomy” plan was the final domino that led to the cursed Oslo Accords and the terrible
give “autonomy” to the terrorists, even in municipal matters such as education and water distribution, since every concession will lead to a destabilization of Israel’s ability to stand firm. And it so was.
During the coalition crisis twenty-two years ago, commonly known as “the stinking maneuver,” Oded Ben-Ami, Voice of Israel radio correspondent in Washington, came to the Rebbe and asked for his opinion about the fact that there was no government in Yerushalayim. “I don’t mix into politics,” the Rebbe replied. “Furthermore, and this is the main thing: I hope that
Shamir admitted that the Rebbe was right to oppose Israeli participation in the summit, when he warned that merely talking to terrorists will lead to bloodshed and a weakening of Jewish strength. “Prime ministers make mistakes, leaders make mistakes, but not the Rebbe,” Shamir told Pikovsky during their discussion.
wars that subsequently followed. Anyone familiar with Mr. Shamir can safely say that if he had known that the Madrid Conference would lead to Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state, he would have stayed in Eretz Yisroel and never would have gone to speak with the Arabs. Shamir never considered the possibility that his miniscule compromise would draw the country towards the abyss and result in the frightful deterioration over the last twenty years. He naively thought that he had found the magic solution called “autonomy”, but the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, prophetically saw otherwise and proclaimed that it is forbidden to
soon the prime minister will be Moshiach Tzidkeinu. But during the time until Moshiach comes, it is proper that the approach should be like [Mr. Shamir’s].” This naturally referred to the path that Mr. Shamir had represented in the previous elections held less than eighteen months earlier, stating that true security is possible only by standing firm against the terrorist organizations without hesitation, compromise, or capitulation. The Rebbe was most appreciative of this approach, which Mr. Shamir knew how to present with great pride and confidence. Yet, even when Mr. Shamir eventually decided to go to Madrid, the
Issue 841 • �
Rebbe remained unrelenting. In his famous audience with Mr. Moshe Katsav, the Rebbe told him that he should remind Mr. Shamir of his great deeds from the days he served with the Irgun – “Lechi.” The Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, bestowed Mr. Shamir with tremendous strengths, giving him full backing as long as he proudly followed the straight path and held firm in protecting the territorial integrity of Eretz HaKodesh. However, when he agreed to make concessions to the terrorists, even the very slightest, the Rebbe declared that he personally – mentioning his own name – would fight for the collapse of Mr. Shamir’s government! This message merely sharpened the clear reality, as outlined in Israeli politics over the years that followed: Anyone who starts talking about concessions places the lives of millions of Jews living in Eretz HaKodesh in grave danger, and that person will eventually agree to proclaim a Palestinian state – regardless of the conditions. At the Madrid Conference, Continued from page 37 My mother wondered why I liked that shirt in particular. I never told her why. I was no small “yesh” (as my father described me) and I did not want her to laugh at me. With time, my ardent feelings for the Siddur weakened, but I still looked after it like a precious treasure. not only didn’t Shamir agree to establish a state for terrorists, he even proudly expressed this fervent opposition later to the Americans. As a result, the talks ultimately failed to produce the results desired by the United States government, which had sponsored this initiative. However, the leader of this generation had already prophetically foreseen that such a person could not remain in the premiership for even one day longer. Thus, just as the Rebbe had promised, Mr. Shamir’s government collapsed. there are those who state that we must give Netanyahu support on the right, claiming that if he is toppled from power, the left-ofcenter parties will take control and then all will be lost. Every leader must know that the only way to bring peace and security is “that the approach should be according to Mr. Shamir’s.” Not the Mr. Shamir of the Madrid Conference, but the Mr. Shamir from the preceding election campaign, when he proclaimed that the surest way to bring true peace is not to give an inch. Mr. Shamir certainly now has many merits to his advantage, as mentioned by the Rebbe, including his genuine devotion to the Jewish People out of a sense of true and sincere love for his fellow Jews. He had the privilege of expressing regret for his misguided actions before departing this world, and he vigorously opposed all agreements made with the terrorists. These deeds will surely serve as an advocate for him in Heaven. May his memory be blessed.
The true lesson from the story of Mr. Shamir has to be learned today by the political right-wing, which continues to waver on the heavy question of whether to engage in battle against the prime minister’s policies or protect his right flank. Those who claim that we must fight the government proclaim that Netanyahu poses a real danger to the country, and after he actually called for the creation of a terrorist state, he no longer had any moral claim on his elected office. In contrast, gift – a new, thin Siddur, T’hillas Hashem, of the last printing in Russia. Obviously, this Siddur captivated me completely. The small, thin Siddur gave me a warm feeling every time I took it into my hand. It seemed to possess a certain authenticity that could never fade. As I said earlier, Zeide Chaim Benzion had a few sets of new Chumashim and each one had the t’fillos in Nusach Ari at the end. I had great pleasure from those Chumashim of his, although I did not dream of removing the t’fillos from
THE NEw SIDDUR
Several years later, my uncle, Moshe Chaim Dubrawski, surprised me with an unusual
them. In one set of Chumashim there were many additions in Yiddish, the wonderful stories from Seifer HaYashar, excerpts of commentaries and nice parables, each of which I gobbled up at every opportunity. My grandfather had much nachas seeing me immersed in these additions to the Chumash. Zeide also had nine sets of Tanach with many additions. I don’t know where he got such precious Chumashim and sets of Tanach, and until today I don’t know where they disappeared to.
40 � • 23 Tammuz 5772
DON’T KNOCK IT
By M.E. Gordon
Shneur was a man on the move. He seemed to always be thinking of new projects and getting his class involved in carrying them out. He was the one who came up with the plan for the “Lunch N’ Learn” Rambam shiur in school. He also initiated the Sunday “Daven and Dine” club, inviting people from his Mivtzaim route to come to shul. Everyone enjoyed a bagel and dips breakfast after davening. Then there was the Mezuza clinic that he organized for a few days in Elul at the kosher bakery. People could bring in their Mezuzos to be checked while buying their Challos or honey cake, and pick them up a few days later. These are just a few examples of Shneur’s initiative and drive. How did he cover the expenses of his many projects? No problem, Shneur had a thousand fund raising ideas. He even managed to get many of his classmates to help him bring his plans to fruition. Most of the boys looked up to Shneur, admiring his dedication to the Rebbe’s Mivtzaim. One boy, however, was not impressed. Boruch was a p’nimi, one who focused on avoda – the hard labor of refining oneself from the inside out. He looked at Shneur’s projects and came to the conclusion that it was not motivated by the right reasons. He believed that he detected the factor behind everything that Shneur did. He smelled the scent
As he got to the part of the sicha that spelled out the practical lesson he nearly fell off of his chair! It was as if it was written for him!
of yeshus, even arrogance. He could not let this go unchecked. Why, the imperative of Ahavas Yisroel demanded that he help his friend get rid of this terrible trait! Boruch had decided that he was going to find an opportune time to deliver his message to Shneur, but how he would do it he did not exactly know. “Hey, Boruch!” Boruch looked up in surprise. Here he was sitting, wondering how to approach Shneur, and who comes up to him? None other than Shneur himself! What Divine Providence! “Boruch,” continued Shneur, “would you have some time now to go over a sicha on the parsha with me? I’m organizing a new project in the boys’ minyan. Each week a different person will give over a Sichas Kodesh before the Torah reading. I’m doing it this first week, to start it off. I want to make sure that I’ve got it right.
I want this project to be a supersuccess.” Shneur smiled, thinking to himself: There he goes again, always looking for ways to stand out! What arrogance! Maybe this will be my chance to set him right! Aloud, he said: “Sure, I’ll be happy to learn with you. Have you chosen which one you want to learn?” “Well, there is one in Cheilek Ches on the first pasuk and Rashi in the parsha. I think that will catch everyone’s attention.” See, I was right, thought Boruch, he wants everyone’s attention! “…Because if the first time works out well,” continued Shneur, “then it’s likely to continue. Just think how much nachas the Rebbe will have.” The two sat down to learn. Boruch figured that somehow he would find a way to tell Shneur
Issue 841 • �
to stop being such a ‘yesh.’ Meanwhile, they started learning together. As they read, Boruch started to get the feeling in the back of his mind that something sounded very familiar. As he got to the part of the sicha that spelled out the practical lesson he nearly fell off of his chair! It was as if it was written for him! The Rebbe had pointed out that in a situation where someone is involved in doing a good thing, and one think that his motives are not pure, don’t knock him. Firstly, even if there are other motives mixed in, those are superficial, because deep down every Jew has a pure desire to serve Hashem. Secondly, no matter what the motives are, doing a good thing is definitely better than not doing it. Thirdly, can anyone really know what the other person’s motives are? In fact, maybe the person who is so critical has an impure motive himself! “OY, OY, OY! I’m the arrogant one! I’m the one who needs to do T’shuva,” Boruch cried out. “You???” wondered Shneur. “You are such a p’nimi. I wish I could be a true Chassid like you!” “And I wish I could be an ‘activist’ like you, Shneur!” “So maybe you want to volunteer to give over a sicha next week in the boys’ minyan!”
The above story is fictional. The lesson is based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 8 pp. 160-170.
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